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Bomb threat called into CAIR-LA building in Anaheim

Bomb threat called into CAIR-LA building in Anaheim
The L.A. chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. (Courtesy of CAIR-LA)

Satisfied that she had reached the Anaheim office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Tuesday afternoon, the caller uttered her threat.

“I’m going to bomb the [expletive] building up,” she said.

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Leaders at the CAIR-LA, the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization in Southern California, called the Anaheim Police Department. Officers evacuated the building and swept it for threats.

No bomb was found.

Authorities have asked anyone with information about the threat to contact the Anaheim Police Department.

“There is a difference between using your First Amendment right to express your opposition to an organization and threatening violence,” CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in a statement. “Threatening harm to innocent people is absolutely unacceptable. We will not allow hatred and fear-mongering to prevail.”

The call comes less than a month after CAIR-LA received an anonymous bomb threat made shortly before its annual banquet, which featured Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first Somali-American member of Congress and one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress. Omar has been a target of threats because she has publicly criticized the treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel, according to CAIR.

An anonymous person called the Hilton Woodland Hills hotel on March 19, the site of the banquet March 23, threatening to bomb the hotel for allowing CAIR to host Omar, as first reported by celebrity news site The Blast.

“What would you do if I told you your hotel was going to be bombed?” the caller is alleged to have said in a message. “That is exactly what’s going to happen if you allow the likes of Ilhan Omar into your hotel. She is a danger to American society and your hotel. You are not to allow her foot into there if you value your own safety. Do not allow her in there. Cancel the event.”

Hotel staff reported the call to the Los Angeles Police Department, who investigated the message.

Leaders say the threats are part of a larger trend in anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

CAIR California recorded an 8% increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017, compared to 2016. In the greater Los Angeles area, there were 1,551 incidents reported, including hate crimes, hate incidents online, employment discrimination, immigration issues and travel-related problems.

The CAIR L.A. office receives hate-fueled calls daily, ranging “from people strenuously not approving of our mission to blatant hatred,” the organization's spokesman Eugene Fields said.

“As anti-Muslim hate has exponentially increased over the past few years, we have warned against the danger of how normalizing hate speech leads into hate threats and hate attacks,” Ayloush said. “The increase in threats and violence are the direct result of irresponsible attacks from the highest levels made against Rep. Omar and other members of marginalized communities.”

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